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Troubled by an Autoimmune Disease? Functional Medicine Can Help

laser bean illustrationIf you have an autoimmune disease, you might have felt that you’re stuck with managing an amalgamation of irritating symptoms with medications. Your doctor might have told you that your condition is incurable and that you’ll need to rely on medication to tame the flare-ups that emerge seemingly at random. How would you feel if we told you that complete healing is possible? You don’t have to be saddled with pain, fatigue, and other frustrating symptoms. In fact, you can treat your autoimmune disorder and even reverse it, thanks to functional medicine. Learn all about autoimmune disorders and how functional medicine can help heal your body:

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

Your immune system is the gatekeeper of your health and constantly battles allergens, toxins, infections, and stress responses. When it works properly, it can easily tell the difference between your own cells and foreign agents like viruses and bacteria. As soon as it detects an invasion, your immune system will deploy white blood cells to fend off the invaders. An autoimmune disease then is a condition in which your hyper-aware immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. Some autoimmune diseases will target just one organ while others will attack the entire body. The result is often debilitating, and your joints, muscles, skin, hair, brain, and gut can be greatly affected.

How Do Autoimmune Diseases Begin?

Autoimmune diseases are becoming more commonplace; this is in part due to the increased amounts of toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis. Here are the biggest culprits that can eventually lead to the development of an autoimmune condition:

  • Chronic stress
  • Food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Hidden infections
  • Leaky gut or intestinal impermeability
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Regularly partaking in the typical Western diet
  • Toxic exposure, including mold, heavy metals, steroids, pollutants, processed and genetically-modified (GMO) foods, and chemicals or solvents

What Are the Most Common Autoimmune Diseases?

There are currently more than 100 autoimmune diseases, and more are appearing as time progresses. Here are the 14 most common autoimmune diseases that we’ve seen in many of our patients:

  • Addison’s disease
  • Autoimmune vasculitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Grave’s disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Type-1 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Psoriasis or psoriasis arthritis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

How Do I Know if I Have an Autoimmune Disease?

Pinpointing an autoimmune disease can be tricky, especially since these conditions include strange, hard-to-classify symptoms that may fluctuate over time like pain, swelling, inflammation, and a sense of malaise. Here are some of the early symptoms to look out for:

  • Achy muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling and redness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unexplained low-grade fevers

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, don’t ignore them! It’s always better to catch and treat diseases early. An antinuclear antibody test administered by your functional doctor can indicate if you have an autoimmune disease.

How Can Functional Medicine Treat My Autoimmune Disease?

You may have wondered why your general practitioner has never mentioned functional medicine as a way to tackle your autoimmune disease. Conventional medicine and functional medicine approach chronic diseases very differently. Western medication often seeks to treat the symptoms with medication. On the other hand, functional medicine searches for and locates the root cause(s) of the disorder and begins healing your body in a natural, holistic way. Doing so will stabilize your hyper-aware immune system and allow your body to heal itself – and even reverse the condition.

Here are the most common ways functional medicine can effectively treat autoimmune diseases:

  • Enjoy whole, anti-inflammatory foods. Many of our patients who have an autoimmune disease suffer from leaky gut syndrome. To counteract this condition, you’ll need to replenish your body with whole, organic, nutrient-packed foods so it can begin repairing itself. Dark leafy greens, wild fatty fish, red and purple berries, nuts, and sweet potatoes are excellent foods to add to your diet.
  • Check for hidden infections. We can work with you to identify and correct a myriad of hidden infections in your body, including yeast, viruses, and Lyme.
  • Uncover and address any food allergies. You may be sensitive to certain food groups without realizing it. Taking an IgG food test or trying an elimination diet for a certain amount of time can help you identify any food sensitivities you may have.
  • Test for celiac disease. Gluten, a protein found in barley, wheat, and rye, can damage the small intestine, causing celiac disease. Testing for celiac disease can be done through a simple blood test.
  • Test toxicity levels and detox the body. You may not realize it, but you are constantly exposed to toxins daily. Toxic exposure can alter or harm your body on the cellular level, which may lead to an autoimmune disease. We can test your toxicity levels and determine the most effective way to purge your body of toxins.
  • Repair the gut. About 80% of your immunity lies within your gut, so it only makes sense to heal it as soon as possible. Taking probiotics, eating organic, anti-inflammatory foods, refraining from taking medications unless absolutely necessary (particularly antibiotics), and detoxing your system can help your gut heal naturally.
  • Take certain daily supplements. Calm your immune system naturally with fish oil, probiotics, and vitamins C and D. Other anti-inflammatory nutrients like grape seed extract and quercetin may also benefit you.
  • Exercise regularly. Guess what? Frequent exercise is a natural anti-inflammatory. The best part is you don’t even need a gym to get a workout in – just walk and move around more often! Take frequent strolls, spend time in your garden, or dance to your favorite songs to reap the benefits.
  • De-stress daily. Your mental health is absolutely crucial for physical healing. Manage your stress, connect with loved ones, engage in frequent diaphragmatic breathing, try yoga or meditation, and enjoy a hobby you love every day to mitigate anxiety and get your body back on track.
  • Make time for quality sleep. Maintaining a strong sleep deficit promotes inflammation and harms your metabolism. Prioritize your health by catching plenty of shut-eye every night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, avoid caffeine and alcohol, clear out the clutter, and use your bed only for sleep and sex to get the best quality of sleep.

Start Healing With The Wellness Connection

An autoimmune disease diagnosis doesn’t have to be forever. Reach out to the experts at The Wellness Connection! We can get to the root of the problem and begin healing your body in a non-invasive, natural way. The first step to enjoying the healthy life you truly deserve is calling us at (636) 978-0970.

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